Mortal Engines 4K Ultra HD

Featured In Issue 238, April 2019

WSR Score4.5
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
Universal Studios Home Entertainment
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Sequences of futuristic violence and action
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Single Side, Dual Layer (BD-100)
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Christian Rivers
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Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD 7.1
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"Mortal Engines" is set hundreds of years after our civilization was destroyed, and a new world has emerged. A mysterious young woman named Hester Shaw (Hilmar) leads a band of outcasts in the fight to stop London––now a giant predator city on wheels––from devouring everything in its path. (Gary Reber)

Special features include commentary with Director Christian Rivers; the five-part behind-the-scenes featurette "Welcome To London: Building The Beast" (HD 05:08), "Levels Of London" (HD 05:19), "The Smallest Details" (HD 04:20), "London Museum" (HD 05:19) and "Medusa And St. Paul's (HD 06:11); and the featurettes "End Of The Ancients" (HD 03:13), "Character Series" (HD 21:43), "In The Air" (HD 04:52) and "Film New Zealand" (HD 03:52); upfront previews and a Movies Anywhere digital code.

The 2.39:1 2160p HEVC/H.265 Ultra HD HDR10/Dolby Vision picture, reviewed on a Sony Bravia Z9D 4K Ultra HD HDR display, was photographed digitally using the RED Weapon Helium 8K camera system and sourced from a 4K master Digital Intermediate format. There is credited a 3D conversion by Stereo D. The picture's color palette exhibits a slightly desaturated appearance at times, which enhances the character of the earthy surroundings, while at other times the palette exhibits a naturally saturated appearance with vibrant hues. As such, hues are bold and warm with rich color highlights. The wider color gamut reveals an impressive range of hue shading, intensities, and color depth. Every frame is a colorful delight, from earthy browns and greens, to grays and blacks of tattered clothing, to beautiful reds. Fang's red attire and his airship and Shrike's green eyes are strongly saturated and illuminated, at times, against dark backgrounds. Such a robust color scheme enhances the spectacular production and set design and the intricate detail exhibited in every frame. Throughout, fleshtones are rendered naturally or appropriately depending on the lighting design. The production design is impressive. HDR contrast is superb with deep blacks and brilliant whites, such as the pure whites of snow-capped mountains and white attire of the woman scientists. Resolution delivers fine image quality with superb sharpness and clarity throughout. The finest detail is revealed throughout, with meticulous attention. Facial features are really well defined, such as eyebrows, eyelashes, lines, skin pores, scars, skin blemishes, hair, beards, and even teeth. As well, the detail and texturing in costuming is remarkable, such that fine hue shadings and garment wear and tear are perfectly clear and defined. WOW! segments are numerous and include: 01:30 to 04:45, 09:00 to 09:24, 20:21 to 24:20, 31:28 to 32:51, 37:50 to 39:47, 47:30 to 49:18, 55:17 to 57:40, 01:02:58 to 01:05:14, 01:09:08 to 01:10:00, 01:15:13 to 01:16:45, 01:26:44 to 01:29:02, 01:31:54 to 01:32:42, 01:39:16 to 01:41:13 and 01:57:15 to 01:58:29. This is an exceptional 4K Ultra HD presentation that is reference quality throughout, and one of the most visually stunning movies to be created. (Gary Reber)

The Dolby Atmos/Dolby TrueHD 7.1-channel soundtrack is thunderously dynamic with extremely loud and fully energized sound effects, as well as relentless surround energy. The engaging sound design was created by Sound Designer Dave Whitehead, who has created the sounds of a world of oversized machinery. During large-scale action scenes, in which London absorbs smaller cities and on-the-move satellites, as aircraft zip about, the sound design draws one into this imaginary future world. Even less dramatic and dynamic segments are no less sonically enticing. In both contexts, there is an effectively integrated overhead component. The soundfield is completely engulfing with impressive holosonic® spherical surround energy. Sound effects are powerful, enhanced with, at times, pulse-pounding deep bass energy to sub-25 Hz frequencies, though, at times there is a relative absence of intense low-end dynamics when it would be expected, such as heavy machinery sounds and various gunfire sounds.. The orchestral/choral score is composed, produced, programmed, mixed and mastered by Tom Holkenborg and performed by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. The orchestral/choral score is seemingly constant and completely fills the soundstage with precise positioning that wraps around the soundfield and above with intense energy. The soundstage is wide and deep. Foley sound effects are convincing with realism. Dialogue is intelligible throughout, though, always forward in presence as if ADR produced.

The Immersive Sound element rises up at the very beginning with a husky male voice, which is heard overhead. This is followed by the crafty and engaging music score, which is a blend of orchestral, synthesizer, and choral voicing. Atmospherics and sound effects consist of the cathedral bell ringing, the monstrous doors of the "London" predator rolling city, a clanky engine sound, swishing sounds, "Welcome to London" and subsequent announcements, various machine demolition sounds, a tuning grinder sound, wind and din outdoor atmospherics, door slams, echoed voices, panned around rolling machinery patrols, clanky sounds of moving vehicles, panned flying craft, swinging prison cages and squeaky doors, underwater air bubble sounds, lightening, crowd chatter at a slave auction, clanky and squeaky sounds of flying city machines, explosive sounds, an "Evacuate Now" voice, "Tonight..." and "Welcome Home Windflower" voice announcements, very loud "Entering Kill Zone... announcements, a bell ringing, anxious voices, powerful explosive force, wind, heavy gunfire, aircraft flyover, a "Firing will commence..." voice, metal crushing sound, and so much more sound effects, making this an active height layer with panned and positioned sound effects. Still, there could have been far more sound effect and ambiance sounds to complete the immerse spherical soundscape.

This is a soundtrack that will test the sound system capabilities of the finest home theatre systems. Bass and explosions are rampant during action scenes, which are prominent throughout. The soundtrack is relentless in generating adrenaline-induced excitement. (Gary Reber)